Weather Could Make a Swirl of Difference
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Riviera in the rain

Practically right on cue, here comes the rain! The forecast called for rain starting at 3pm local time. Ryan Moore, who fired a three-under 68 to shoot his way into contention, expressed relief that he was safely in the clubhouse. Meanwhile, Corey Pavin, who shot an even-par 71, walked off the course with a big smile on his face early this afternoon for a good reason — he too finished before the weather blew in (and he ranks near last in driving distance). Now, it’s cold, windy and pouring, which doesn’t bode well for the players still on the course, especially the shorter hitters.

“I was really happy with the way I started today making a few birdies there early, so that was nice,” said Moore. “From that point I kind of cruised, a little bit of scrambling coming in just to keep it where I got it to. But it was a tough day out there, and I can’t imagine it’s going to get much easier.”

Moore birdied four of his first five holes. His first bogey came on his ninth hole, No. 18 (he teed off on No. 10). He grinded on his second nine, birding No. 1 and bogeying No. 3 before finishing with six straight pars.

“I’m happy to be done right now, that’s for sure,” said Moore. “Like I said, it’s not going to get any easier. The wind is starting to pick up, and it was swirling really our last eight or nine holes. It was swirling a lot. It fooled me a few times.

“It’s going to be tough, and I’m happy to be done at this point.”

In other words, sucks for the guys who got the afternoon draw. But the cut, which is currently projected at two-over, will probably stay at that number. Half the players will suffer from the bad weather and the other half will take advantage of the soft conditions, like Padraig Harrington and Robert Allenby, for example.

Harrington, the quintessential grinder, is two-under through 12 holes, propelling him into contention at five-under total. (*Update: Hit him with the Wei jinx. I just looked up and he doubled No. 13. Whoops!) Sean O’Hair, who was striping the ball after a range session with swing coach Sean Foley on Thursday afternoon, doesn’t appear bothered with the weather — he’s bogey-free and four-under through 12. Meanwhile, rookie Ben Martin has quickly dropped down the leaderboard after his first eight holes. He’s made two birdies, but he’s also carded three bogeys.

As for the forecast, here’s the synopsis that was just handed out to the media:

Light rain will increase in intensity later this afternoon into tonight. Some t-storms and strong, gusty winds will be possible tonight. Heavy rainfall at times could produce some flash flooding as well. Scattered showers will be possible tomorrow morning, but will become more numerous during the afternoon into the evening hours as an upper level low pressure system passes over the region…

To put it simply, expect crappy weather for the remainder of the day and on Saturday. But on the bright side, it’s a great leaderboard!

Oh, I hopped outside about ten yards from the press tent to snap the above photo of Jim Furyk, Mark Wilson and Matt Kuchar treading water up to the green on No. 2. And, here’s Wilson’s caddie running up the fairway to catch up with his player. I couldn’t quite capture the moment, but I was hoping he wouldn’t eat it. It’s slippery out there!

Mark Wilson's caddie running to catch up with Mark